This guide is meant to provide players with useful tips on how to find an online casino in Canada suitable for their needs.
I also present you with an overview of the legal status of various forms of online gambling in Canada.
With a special focus on casinos and online casinos, this blogpost seeks to supplement my guide to online gambling in Canada.
Playing at an online casino in Canada
Canadian laws pertaining to online gambling and online casinos are somewhat complicated. This is due to the country’s political system, as Canada is divided into 10 provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan) and three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon).
Traditionally, gambling and casinos in Canada fall under provincial jurisdiction*, which means that each of these provinces and territories are allowed to introduce laws banning or legalising casinos and other gambling operations.
The legality of online gambling and online casinos in Canada is also determined locally. Although, provinces have their own laws pertaining to gambling, it’s true in general, that in order to offer its games legally to residents of the country, an online casino in Canada needs to hold a licence form the authorities of one of the provinces. Currently – at least in theory – all provinces but Saskatchewan have legalised online casinos. However, in practice, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec are the only provinces actually issuing Canadian online casino licenses. These sites are only allowed to operate locally. They can only offer their games across province borders, if there is a special inter-province agreement in place between the local authorities.
As Canada is a large and lucrative market for online gambling, many operators apply for a Canadian online casino licence. However, the options for playing at an online casino legally in Canada are limited. The majority of Canadians do not have a lot of variety to choose from, when looking for a legal online casino in Canada.
Unlicensed operators, who offer their services on the Canadian online casino market are only prosecuted if they have a physical branch in the country, therefore are sufficiently connected to Canada for being penalised under Canadian Criminal Code. This was exactly the case with Starnet Communcations over a decade ago, which was charged with conducting unlawful online gambling operations and involvement in online pornography**.
The good news for players is, that while it is technically illegal for foreign operators to offer online casino games to Canadians, players form the country are not in any way restricted from playing on offshore online casino sites. There is also no reported ISP block or ban on financial transactions in place relating to foreign online casinos in Canada.
*Source: Online gambling: Is it even legal?
**Source: Police conclude search of Starnet
Online casinos accepting players form Canada
Here’s a selection of online casinos I’ve personally tried and recommend wholeheartedly. Choose from these well-regarded and trustworthy online casinos available in Canada, or read on to find out more about the legal status of gambling and offline and online casinos in Canada!
Land-based Canadian casinos
Canadian casinos can be found in nearly all provinces and territories of the country, with the exceptions of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador. Canada is reported to have over 100 casinos, with most of them – around 25 – located in Ontario.
Regulations for casinos in Canada are also administered on a provincial level, therefore laws pertaining to Canadian casinos vary quite a bit. While most provinces allow for the operation of commercial casinos, in Alberta, for example, casino gambling is only allowed to be conduced in support of charitable purposes. Charitable groups are issued a permit by the Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) and are responsible for conducting short-term charity casinos. The venues for such operations are provided by licensed private operators*.
British Columbian casinos, on the other hand, are privately operated. There are two types of such venues in the province: Community Casinos, which are bingo halls with their licenses extended to operate gaming machines, and Destination Casinos, which are larger venues inside major resorts and mainly focus on tourists.
There are also a number of race tracks in Canada, with many of them operating as so-called “racinos”, meaning, that besides horse race wagering, they offer slots and other classical casino games as well. Plenty of such venues are operated in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
Casinos in Canada are also operated by indigenous americans, generally referred to as First Nations. Currently, there are 643 recognised First Nations communities in Canada**, with a rough 50% of them located in Ontario and British Columbia. With some degree of autonomy under so-called First Nation Governments, they are much like indian reservations in the USA. These communities – just like their US counterparts – operate casinos and gambling venues. In Saskatchewan, for instance, there are six First Nations operated gambling establishments, apart form the two state owned and operated casinos.
Other forms of gambling in Canada
Apart form land based and online casinos in Canada, many other forms of gambling are legal in certain provinces. Historically, all gambling in Canada was under a federal blanket ban, which technically remained in force until today. However, through the 20th Century periodic exemptions to the general prohibition have facilitated a significant growth in legal gaming.
In 1969 state run and charity lotteries were the first forms of gambling that were legalised on a federal level in Canada. Nearly two decades later, in 1985, provincial governments collaboratively persuaded the federal government to amend federal law in order to grant the provinces exclusive control over all forms of gambling*. This basically marked the beginning of legal commercial gambling and casinos in Canada. In 1989 the first commercial Canadian casino opened in Winnipeg followed in 1993 by one in Montréal. Other provinces have since followed. Currently, all but three provinces in Canada have legal casinos and all states legalised some form of gambling and online gambling.
Online gambling in Canada
Every province in Canada has some form of legalised online gambling. Below I collected which forms of online gambling are legal in which Canadian province, apart from casinos:
|Online poker||Online bingo||Online lottery||Online sports betting||Bitcoin gambling|
|Ontario||legal, no operational sites||legal||legal, there’s a state lottery||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
|Quebec||legal, there are legal sites||legal||legal, there’s a state lottery||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
|Nova Scotia||legal, no operational sites||legal||legal, provided by the West Canadian Lottery Company (WCLC) or the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
|New Brunswick||legal, no operational sites||legal||legal, provided by the West Canadian Lottery Company (WCLC) or the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
|Manitoba||legal, there are legal sites||legal||legal, provided by the West Canadian Lottery Company (WCLC) or the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
|British Columbia||legal, there are legal sites||legal||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
|Prince Edward Island||legal, no operational sites||legal||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
|Saskatchewan||only charitable and only Texas Hold’em||only charitable bingo games||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
|Alberta||legal, no operational sites||legal||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
|Newfoundland and Labrador NL||legal, no operational sites||legal||legal, only parlay bets||unknown / no licenses issued yet|
Online bingo sites – Canada (coming soon)
Online poker sites – Canada (coming soon)
Online sportsbooks sites – Canada (coming soon)
Online lottery, keno sites and scratch cards – Canada (coming soon)
Bitcoin casinos – Canada (coming soon)
Simon’s Land-Based and Online Casino Guide – Canada guide is part of Simon’s Online Casino Guide.
Last Updated: 2015. 11. 10.